The Storyteller Tells a Story of Faith…
“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for Me,” Matthew 24:40. What a powerful statement! When Don Lichtenberger’s (MZ) Sunday School class was studying the book,
Following in the Footsteps of Jesus, they were searching for a way to live out this verse. “As we know, one of the tenets of Jesus’ ministry is service. As we discussed what this means for us as disciples of Jesus, we began to talk about how we could serve people (who are) less fortunate. We talked about several ways we could serve as a group and settled on serving meals at the Salvation Army,” says Don. They found an opportunity to follow in Christ’s footsteps by helping those in need.
“God tested our resolve right from the start. Our very first meal was scheduled for Easter Sunday. Several of us had to leave family gatherings (to serve the meal),” Don remembers. Sometimes when God directs us to follow Him, the circumstances are neither convenient nor comfortable. However, as God proves to us over and over again, He calls us where we are needed. Don adds, “The thanks we received from the people we served that day made it so worthwhile.” The Sunday School class now serves meals at the Salvation Army four times a year. They are joined by volunteers from Barnitz as well.
Anna Hockley (MZ), one of the people who helps to serve, agrees that “the people we talk to are always so grateful for what we do for them. When we took gift bags at Christmas for them, they said ‘you mean this is for us?’ I felt like it may have been the first gift they had gotten in a long time. It could have been a great gift to them even if it was something minor to us.” She says it is a pleasure to go because, “they take time to let us know how much they appreciate it (what we do for them) and don’t take it for granted. Too often we forget to let others know how much it means to us…”
When planning meals, several steps need to take place before the scheduled time. A menu needs to be set which dictates a shopping list. Funds or donations must be available to cover the cost of the meals. Don cites a variety of sources to cover those expenses, such as “Barnitz/Mt. Zion Missions Committee, Giant Foods Community Relations Department, and the congregations who are always generous.” Donations of meals, volunteer time and funds also help stretch the budget for the Salvation Army
Trinette Ream, Salvation Army Social Services Director helps to find volunteers to serve the meals. Trinette says volunteers serve most meals on the week-ends and holidays, but on the occasions when no volunteers are available, their staff covers. The cook at the Salvation Army plans and prepares the meals during the week, but they still rely on volunteers to help serve and clean up after the meals. Volunteer groups are scheduled according to the Salvation Army’s schedule. Hopefully, all dinner slots are taken by groups, but if not, Trinette says “we pray a lot. We continue to serve (when no groups volunteer). People will not go hungry; they will get their basic needs met.” Trinette adds, “We are always looking for help. We really rely on volunteers.”
When speaking with Trinette, she wants to relay the message that “we are very grateful for those who come alongside us to help those in need. We consider ourselves blessed, and we hope you consider it a blessing to help others too.”
Don agrees, “Prayerfully seek out how you can serve.” Not everyone can serve in the same way, but all we need to do is look around us and seek God’s direction. He will provide the opportunities.
“There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord,” I Corinthians 12:5.